P038: Let’s Get Dense

Last week’s article about Glance Journalism prompted some interesting discussion, most of it focused around how to convey a useful amount of information in a short amount of time or space, aka “Information Density.” Both evangelists and critics of high density interfaces agree that there is a line to be drawn between communicating efficiently and overwhelming the user – the disagreement is where to draw the line. And of course, no discussion about interface design is complete without a close read of post-season baseball game production from Jason Snell.

But which is more important, how we say something or what we’re saying in the first place? We’ve seen this line of thinking come to web design with Mobile First principles and Responsive Web Design. Designer and writer Liam Spradlin had a great piece back in July where he makes a compelling argument that the hierarchy of presentation is more important than the density. He even references my personal favorite hobbyhorse when discussing effective communication: the inverted pyramid.

But regardless of you lead with method or message, it all comes down to being mindful of your users and readers. Whether you are writing a newsletter, a blog post, a tweet or something even more atomic, the time and attention of your reader is a precious commodity. Respecting the investment that they are making is the first step to building real human connections over the Internet.

Periodically yours,

Bob Sherron